Featured Resource: Learning Where to Look

Are you processing through a difficult time? Are you having a hard time understanding why you are where you are right now? Check out this article by Theresa Bloom to gain another perspective on grief, loss and processing in the field. Velvet Ashes, Grow2Serve’s partner, is here to connect the hearts of women who are separated by geography but bound together by the life of serving overseas. Velvet Ashes is a  an online community of women serving overseas. We are a unique tribe, bonded by the shared journey of uprooting our lives and re-rooting in foreign soil. We know the pain of goodbyes, the upheaval of change, the redefining of self. We know the extremes of our lives that leave our hearts raw and weary. We are made for community, deep and rich. It’s a place where we can link arms with one another and grab hold of the promise of Him who said, “I will give you a full life in the {seemingly} emptiest of places.” (Isaiah 58:11) This is Velvet Ashes.

Edging up to the crowd around the stage at the neighborhood’s traditional annual fish festival, the oversized Penn State hoodie I was wearing didn’t stand out as much as I thought it would. With people around me of various nationalities from all over the world, our German city’s particular district is comprised of many immigrants and refugees and has felt fairly relaxed with regard to language and culture—and style. 

The hoodie wasn’t an accident: a close friend back home, only 31, with a wife and two young kids, had unexpectedly passed away a few days before from unlikely complications of a “cardiac event.” He loved Jesus, and he also loved Penn State. I was thinking of him, and dug out the old hoodie as a small way to honor his memory from thousands of miles away.

As the loud and deep bass started to pulse through the earth, the lead dancer gave a nod. The women were ready. Smiling, they moved in unison, some of them singing along to the fast-paced Spanish song. Though the moves seemed simple, the crowd was captivated, and so was I. It’s fascinating how music and dance are gifts that can both contain and transcend culture… I’ve marveled that following Jesus can do both, too. With no language prerequisites for anyone, though, watching the dance with my neighborhood felt unifying, mysteriously tapping into basic emotions even as some found themselves tapping along to the beat. 

The women would twist, or bend, or clap, and tears began to well up in my eyes as I thought of the complicated dance it is to live between two faraway places—and as I thought of friends who would soon be gathering for a funeral that I wish I could attend, too. I couldn’t help but also feel a tinge of self-pity that this cross-cultural dance I’m in is one that I just can’t quite seem to figure out. I keep trying, but I don’t know the moves.

I choked back the tears before they fully formed and quickly glanced at the Middle Eastern man standing beside me, hoping he didn’t notice my face contorting with this sudden emotional response. Soon, the dance was over. I clapped with everyone else and wove my way out of the crowd that had continued forming behind me, leaving in order to keep from somehow turning into a puddle of reflection and sorrow.

CONTINUE READING…

For almost nine years, God has been using me in the MEDIA ministry as a short documentary film producer. I am also a visual artist; an impressionist doing mostly impasto artworks with oil paint as my main medium. God lead me to Grow2Serve where I work as an administrative assistant to our Senior Director, Mark Morgenstern.

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